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Article 50 triggers DB transfers overseas

05 January 2017

A surge in UK pension scheme members transferring assets to elsewhere in the EU is expected ahead of the formal notification to leave being given in March

Read more: Article 50 deVere Group DB schemes QROPS Nigel Green

UK defined benefit (DB) pension scheme members are increasingly transferring their pensions to EU-based ones ahead of the triggering of Article 50, according to deVere Group.

The investment advisory firm confirmed enquiries have increased by 21% since the beginning of December, citing Brexit as the reason for the flurry of transfers. Transfers within the EU are allowed under Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) arrangements.

"Since the Brexit vote in June 2016, the rate of overseas pension transfer enquiries has steadily been gaining pace," said Nigel Green, founder and CEO of deVere Group. "There has been a notable uptick since that point, compared to the previous year."

deVere has seen interest intensify particularly in recent weeks and expects further momentum as "we begin the final countdown to the triggering of Article 50 by the end of March".

"It’s understandable why so many are considering transferring their UK pensions into an HMRC-recognised overseas pension scheme at the moment," said Green. "They recognise the golden opportunity right now."

Green added that Malta and Gibraltar are attractive jurisdictions to receive transfers. Not only are they "established and secure" but they both have double taxation treaties within the UK.

According to deVere, there are three key factors at play: ultra-low gilt yields boosting transfer values, pressure on final salary pension deficits and sponsors, and general uncertainty of what a "post-Brexit Britain will look like".

The UK’s pension funding gap was at its worst ever level in August 2016 but has partially recovered in recent months, according to Pension Protection Fund data.

Green stressed: "The size of the gap brings into question the survival of many company pensions schemes."

As a result, people are looking to safeguard their retirement income. "All in all, so-called gold-plated final salary schemes are, in many cases, looking considerably less golden than they once did."

He said that the countdown to trigger Article 50 means that now might be the "ideal" moment for an overseas pension transfer.


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